Whenever I’m having a particularly shitty day, getting subs is never far from my mind. This story takes place years ago, when I was living in Austin when it was much smaller place. I took a break from studio with my studiomate and we walked over to Thundercloud Subs. It’s a small chain of sub shops scattered throughout Austin. Every store feels lived in and born from a much simpler time in Austin’s frenetic history, namely, the 70’s. The old Austin slacker vibe is always on full display inside every Thundercloud shop. The shop by my studio was no different.
When Chris and I got to Thundercloud, we ordered our subs. The eager stoner employee cheerfully got right on it, adding our requested toppings with aplomb. His stoned out, positive outlook provided a backdrop for our small talk. My sub was finished first, and the employee started to build the next sub to Chris’ specifications. Everything was going along fine and we dug out some cash to pay for the subs. Chris’s order came to some amount ending in a penny or two. Being the helpful, humble human, Chris dug out the extra pennies to ease the transaction.
As Chris reached over the metal counter that hovered over the trays of recessed vegetables, his hand hit the counter. In an instant, the pennies fell out of his hand, bounced on the counter. It seemed to happen in slow motion, but the pennies fell right into the middle of the vat of mayo.
Equal parts embarrassed and horrified, Chris began apologizing immediately. I stood with my mouth open and aghast at the dirty penny that fell into all of that mayonnaise. The employee, ever chipper, simply grabbed one of those long, serrated knives used to cut subs in half and stuck it deep down into the mayo. He waved off all apologies as he swirled and parried the knife throughout the thick, white vat of mayo.
Chris felt horrible, and apologized again as the absurdity of the moment started to hit us. Finally, the employee, calm and cool as a cucumber, stopped for a second. He smiled, and almost thankfully looked us in the eyes and said, “You know, if this is the worst thing that happens today, it’s a pretty good day!”